Thursday, July 29, 2010

Block Party: What it is and isn't... Is it a waste of time?

This last month one of our missional LifeGroups hosted "block parties" in a couple of apartment complexes in town. It was loads of fun, especially for the kids. It was simple and inexpensive (we set up a big tarp and made a massive slip-n-slide and had hot dogs, chips and ice cream cones) and the kids loved it. One little 7 year old boy liked it so much that as we were packing up he said with tears in his eyes, "Are you coming back tomorrow night"? What was it that is so fun that makes a little boy cry? And the bigger question, "what's the point?", and "did it really help?"

I was raised in the old school. In the old school what was important was not that you 'give a cup of cold water', but that you 'give it in Jesus name'. And in the old school that meant with every 'random act of kindness' you either had to give a gospel booklet or had to preach the gospel to make your act of kindness legit. It never occurred to me how offensive this was and flat out wrong until we started living a missional life. When you become a missionary in your own city the people there become well, people, not projects or notches on your evangelism belt, etc. Let me explain.

I want you to imagine for a second your regular life. Your daughter asks you if a friend can come over to spend the night. Do you put a gospel tract by her plate or sing and preach to her before she leaves. You are going to the zoo and your kids invite friends to come along. "Well we have to preach during lunch at the zoo". You're going to the movie... you get the point. Well let me ask the obvious question: Why can't we just have fun in the mission field without the presentation? My kids' friends and I have had wonderful conversations about our Lord and our relationship with him. Some have met Christ, others not yet. But I have never conditioned my interaction with them on a 'gospel presentation'.

Am I ashamed of the gospel? Have I put my hope in something else? Do I think a slip-n-slide will save them? Of course not. As the 'oldy but goody' says, My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. Isn't there ample time in a protracted relationship to share life and faith. Of course there is. But that is the rub isn't it? The reason we have to stuff a tract in the food basket, preach at every event or have the 'roaming EE trained evangelist' staged as stealth operatives in the crowd is that we have no intention of having a relationship with 'those guys'.

And that's what makes missonal life different. That's why we can have a guilt free fun party and soak the kids down and listen to their squeals of delight and be touched by their tears when we leave. Because we will be back, day by day, week by week sharing the hope that lies within us in so many ways.

I loved that little boys tears and oh by the way, we baptized his daddy last month.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Take your trip, but never leave the farm.

This morning on "Good Morning America" a group from South Dakota was introduced. They were in New York on a 'summer missions trip'. Summer is the time for missions trips! Most summers it is customary for churches to load up and go on a trip. Some go to other countries, those are expensive and exotic and fraught with intestinal dangers. They are also life changing for many who realize for the first time the privilege Americans have been raised in and take for granted. Some go to other cities and help church planters or ministries that help the urban poor. One such favorite is a trip to Arlington Texas to help Mission Arlington.

Mission Arlington is a apt complex ministry which plants small apartment churches in low income complexes between Dallas and Fort Worth Texas. The tag line is "bringing church to the people". At their headquarter they have a full service care facility which has soup kitchen, thrift store, counseling, and many other things, even a free medical clinic. They serve about 250 apartments. And during the summer, Missions teams from all over the country come and help. They do Bible clubs in the apartments, help all over in many ways.

Crosswind has made an effort to model their ministry, to bring the church (God's people) and hope and help to the people who live in the subsidized apartments in our city. I believe with all my heart that Corinth is as vital a missions field as any city in America. We have as much need surely as Arlington Texas. Here's my request, next year when your planning your summer missions trip, take that trip but never leave the farm. Plan your trip here. Serve our city, the people that need you. Have fun with it, camp out stay in a church's gym, whatever it takes. But make Corinth your mission field.

Sandy Williams has done just that. Every year Sandy finds seniors whose homes are in disrepair, or the poor who can afford to fix up, or the handicap who can't care for their properties and he designs a mission trip. It's right here in Corinth. It's a week long. It's hard work. You get to meet new Christian friends. And citizens of Corinth get to see the gospel in action. How cool is that. Sandy, well done! Crosswind has partnered with Sandy and each year we get to take a missions trip. It's right here in our own city, led by one of our cities finest and they serve alongside other Corinthians to bring the gospel to the marginalized in our city.

If you've never done a missions trip in Corinth call Sandy or Crosswind ministry. We'll help ya design one. By the way, I've taken mission trips in Uganda, India, Turkey, Mexico and several cities in America.

I love mission trips to Corinth. You will too.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Why are you just standing there?

"But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say." Acts 4:14

At first glance at this verse, it seems to us that the onlookers could say nothing because a man had been miraculously healed. And I am sure that it was mostly the healing that had them standing speechless. But as I sit hear thinking about how we can become more efficient at winning lost people to Christ, something else stands out to me about this verse. The healed man is standing there with them.

Our impulse is to see immediate results, even when it comes to salvations. But this is often not the example we find in scripture. Jesus poured His life into the disciples, the disciples poured themselves into the early church(es), the apostles mentored younger believers; and, the thing that will ultimately convince the lost people of the world to come to Christ is that we love them enough to "stand" with them for however long that takes. In a world where there are people on every corner saying they hold the answer to lifes problems, the thing that will separate us still continues to be the love of Jesus.

Live free in Christ,

Kevin C. (guest blogger)